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Discussion Starter #1
I've got the ice fishing bug, don't have a sled. This spring I'm going to look for something so I don't have to walk everywhere or mooch rides. Here is what I plan to use it for:

Mainly fishing. 100 to 200 miles a year. Probably 10 trips per year

I'll be hauling a portable shanty. 125 lbs. or so total weight, I'd guess

A rider on back most times

I'm looking for reliability. While I wouldn't go to saginaw bay and ride alone, I don't want to get stuck, broke down either.

Have about 2 grand in budget. Less would be better!

I'm pretty good with outboards and boat engines but know little about snowmobile engines. Point me in the right direction on what to look for and what to avoid.
 

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If you look around you can find a great deal! I just bought a 97 Yamaha 600 with electric start, reverse, hand warmers, and rear rack for $800. Be patient and look beyond craigslist and ebay. I found mine simply by asking. Guy had a sled in a shop where I got sent on a service call. Struck up conversation about it and he said he just wanted rid of it... BAM... my first sled!
 

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First off, like Ma said, if it is for mainly ice fishing, get a fan cooled sled. Liquid cooled sleds need snow not to overheat. And you can certainly do some trail riding with a fan cooled sled.

I would look at something look for a 440. I would stay away from fan cooled sleds in the 550 and up range. You should be able to get a nice ice fishing sled for $1200.

Always check the compression on any sled you buy and look at the plugs when you pull them out. Any sign of aluminium on the plugs is no good.

If the speedo doesn't work, don't buy it without checking the drive shaft bearing.

Another thing that you can do is start it and spray ether around the block. If it speeds up the block has a crack. This one is a little tricky though depending on the seller.

You want a studded track, especially on ice.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the great suggestions. Keep them coming! Gonda, why do you say stay away from the 550 class fan models?
 

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They are a big engine to manage with fan cooling. I just feeling better with liquid cooling for something putting out that much HP.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Okay, so after some research (and ditching the rider on the back idea as a requirement) I've come across these two as solid, reliable machines:

Polaris Indy Trail 500
Yamaha Phazers

Any additions to this list or reasons to avoid either?
 

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Okay, so after some research (and ditching the rider on the back idea as a requirement) I've come across these two as solid, reliable machines:

Polaris Indy Trail 500
Yamaha Phazers

Any additions to this list or reasons to avoid either?
I wouldn't ditch the 2 up idea. As the saying goes, better to have and not need then need and not have. It won't bust your budget anyhow. I have a '89 Phazer and if I had to do it all over again, I'd get another one.
 

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I wouldn't ditch the 2 up idea. As the saying goes, better to have and not need then need and not have. It won't bust your budget anyhow. I have a '89 Phazer and if I had to do it all over again, I'd get another one.
Dennis, yes, I didn't phrase that right. If I can find one in my budget then yes. There are just alot fewer around it seems. Would be my preference.
 

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Dennis, yes, I didn't phrase that right. If I can find one in my budget then yes. There are just alot fewer around it seems. Would be my preference.
Ya aint lookin hard enough. I just found six Phazers, ranging in price from $750-$1250 on CL, in 22 seconds. Now go out there and get you one. No more lame-ass excuses.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
And reverse, although you could put a venture chain case on a phazer of you wanted it.

You should also add Arctic cat Jag's and Panthers to your list. The Cat 440 fan is a great engine.
Thanks, Swampbuck. I'll add the cats to my list of ones to watch for. Don't have the money to pull the trigger yet, but I'm researching and looking. I agree, reverse would be awful nice.
 

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Spraying ether or starting fluid around the case won't tell you if the case is cracked (rare), it'll tell you if the crankcase seals are old, leaking and cracked. They can be replaced with a some effort and I do them as peace of mind when a guy says: "The carbs just need to be cleaned." Generally, the PTO (clutch) side seal is the first to go on sleds that sit for long period of time or have mileage over 3k.

I own an 94 Polaris Indy Trail 500 and use it for ice fishing with a buddy and love it. I recommend finding a sled with studs in the track and new carbides under the ski's. I don't have studs, but I do have new carbides and it gets around great except on glare ice. Any packed or blown snow on the ice and it'll go just fine.

My buddy runs a 92 Artic Cat Cougar 2-up with the 440 and it's a luxury machine compared to the Indy. He tows a clam 5600 shanty, auger, spud, bait buckets, and tackle buckets on a homemade sled built from old ski's and it does great. He doesn't have studs either.

At a minimum, find a sled with studs, hand warmers and install new carbides if need be. A new drive-belt makes a world of difference too. Electric start and reverse would go on the luxury list.

Good luck!
 

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I run a 1990 ski-doo safari with a 400 fan cooled. Its a nice sled but its HEAVY and ski-doo used a off sized track for them and nobody makes a track for it anymore. I've called all over and have been told good luck. Best bet is a used track. Just wanted to give my input on this sled in case you find one. I've also been told that they use to make a adapter kit to be able to use a normal size track but they don't make that anymore either.
 
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